It’s been exactly 10 weeks since Chris Beard agreed to leave Texas Tech for Texas – moving 380 miles southwest from one Big 12 school to another in a development that was probably the year’s largest coaching rental, even though it was completely overshadowed nationally. Today, it was announced by Roy Williams’ retirement in North Carolina
And if you’re wondering how busy Beard has been with recruiting, connecting and everything else, you need to understand that he finally moved out of a hotel just last Friday night.
“These job changes are just crazy,” Beard told me this week.
And he certainly wanted to know.
For the past 10 years, the 48-year-old has technically held nine different jobs – specifically associate head coach at Texas Tech, head coach of ABA’s South Carolina Warriors, head coach at Lamar State College-Port Arthur (for just six days), head coach at McMurry, head coach in Angelo State, head coach at Little Rock, head coach at UNLV (for just 19 days), head coach at Texas Tech and now head coach at Texas. The man has changed jobs a lot, mainly because his path to coaching star status has been an unusual and slow rise highlighted by Beard getting an opportunity and mostly being good at it very quickly, at which point better opportunities quickly presented themselves.
Step by step he has just moved up.
But there is now reason to believe that Chris Beard is done moving because he landed the first job on the top shelf that everyone drew him many years ago. For some reason, most thought Shaka Smart would eventually leave Texas and be replaced by Beard. So while it is no surprise that this was exactly what was heard, what is wild is that 19 days before it was named, almost no one would have predicted that it would increase this year, for 19 days before it happened, was Smart in Kansas City and cut gear after leading the Longhorns to their first Big 12 Tournament championship in history. In other words, Smart’s seat had cooled significantly. So it seemed unlikely that the job in Texas would open in 2021.
“You know, Shaka and I are friends – about as good friends as you can be in this business competing against each other,” Beard said. “I’m not saying we go to church together and play golf every Sunday, but there’s a lot of respect between the two of us and I consider him a friend. The Big 12 championship in Kansas City, the post-season tournament. So when it got tough, it got a little fast. “
As you probably know, after winning the Big 12 tournament, Smart’s Longhorns, as a number 3 seed, got upset in the first round of the NCAA Tournament by Abilene Christian just a day after Marquette fired Steve Wojciechowski. The byproduct of these two developments was again Texas fans who smeared on Smart, while pretty much at the same time opening up a good job in a major league in his home state. So when it was offered, it made sense for Smart to parachute out of Austin in pursuit of new expectations, which is exactly what he did. And while there was a push from some Texas alumni, most notably Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant, for the school to replace Smart with former Texas player Royal Ivey, the no-brainer move was always athletic director Chris Del Conte, who gave Beard what it took to get him to leave a Texas school with good resources to another Texas school with great resources, which is exactly what he did.
For the next 10 weeks, Beard has retained some key players, added some key players and gathered what can reasonably be called college basketball’s best staff. He took Ulric Maligi and Bob Donewald Jr. with him from Texas Tech, lured Jerrance Howard from Kansas and convinced both Rodney Terry and Chris Ogden to resign their positions as head coaches at Division I institutions. If it is not the most expensive staff in the country, it should be close. And that’s the latest evidence that Texas is all-in on men’s basketball. The school spent nearly $ 400 million on a new arena to open the next rill, $ 35 million to get Beard and millions more to let him create the staff he wanted to create.
“If we are to do this, let’s do it,” Beard said, explaining his thinking and precision for his administration’s financial support. “In Texas, expectations are what they are and I embrace that. That’s when I’m best. I do not want to be anywhere else rewarded. I got into coaching a long time ago to try to coach the best players and coach on the biggest stage – and Texas gives you an opportunity to do so, so we understand all the expectations and what comes with the commitment that [Del Conte] and president [Jay] Hartzell and the University of Texas have made for men’s basketball and we are happy about it. We welcome the challenge. Was here. And we get it done. “
I bet this prediction will come true.
There are obviously few safe things in college athletics other than, for example, Nick Saban, Urban Meyer, Rick Pitino and John Calipari, who have each shown over long periods of time that they can pretty much win anywhere. So there is nothing guaranteed here. But it would be foolish to assume that beards do not bloom in Texas.
This is his third Division I job.
His first was at Little Rock – where he inherited a 13-18 program and finished 30-5 in his first and only year while winning the Sun Belt’s regular season title, Sun Belt Tournament title and advancing to the second round of the NCAA Tournament while you set the record for victories from a Sun Belt school. After doing all that, he jumped to his second Division I job at Texas Tech, where during his second season he became the first coach to take the Red Raiders to Elite Eight before becoming his first coach in his third season. to take the Red Raiders to the Final Four and the national title game.
He literally did unprecedented things at his first two DI jobs.
He exceeded all expectations.
So the track record is amazing. And that’s why it’s fair to think that in time Chris Beard will also do unprecedented things in Texas and maybe just maybe bring the school his first national championship in a sport that has been prioritized and is now set up for success in any meaningful way.